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Study in SA mines sheds light on Sexual Harassment in the workplace. What can you learn from it?

by , 08 November 2015
As reported by Mining Weekly, a recent study has found that, in South Africa's mines, sexual harassment is a widely-spread phenomenon.

The study was carried out by communication company, The Guild Combination (TGC). In the course of the study, which lasted for 20 months between the years 2013 and 2014, various workshops and discussion forums were held in 16 mines throughout the country.

At a recent 'women in mining conference', TGC's project manager, Gary Newman, said to delegates that the mining industry has taken the introduction of women in the mines very seriously – so as to achieve required transformation under South African law.

But he also said true transformation can't take place unless women can be guaranteed a safe working environment that is free from sexual harassment.

2 out of 5 women in South Africa have been victims of some form of sexual harassment in the workplace!

Do you know what procedures to follow if one of your employees lodges a sexual harassment complaint?

The sexual harassment awareness programmes which TGC conducted were, while accepted by some mines, turned down by others. This was because they claimed that they had not had a case of sexual harassment reported in many years.

But, this type of reasoning falls somewhat short of being sound, in that women, while experiencing sexual harassment, may be reluctant to REPORT it.

This is confirmed in the study's findings, which showed a reluctance to 'whistle blowing', believing that, if any information got out, it would have negative consequences for them.

What's more, according to a recent IOL article, a poll, which was carried out by Ipsos MORI, found that 29% of women working in G20 countries (of which South Africa is one) have experienced harassment as work – and yet, of these women, 61% never, or rarely, reported these incidents.

In TGC's study, a recommendation from the workers was to include 'Sexual Harassment Ambassadors' for each mine site.

From what has been mentioned above, it might be a good idea to look more closely into the issue of sexual harassment – past the mere understanding that 'no reports mean no incidents'.

Perhaps a sexual awareness programme/workshop for you staff can be useful. And introducing a 'Sexual Harassment Ambassador' or counsellor in your company may facilitate the reporting of incidents as soon as possible so that you can deal with them effectively.

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